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Facebook, Microsoft to Run Mega-Cable From Va. to Spain

MAREA will be the highest-capacity trans-Atlantic cable yet
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2016 9:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – Virginia Beach soon be tethered to Bilbao, Spain, thanks to what Computerworld calls "an epic shift that will change everything." A joint initiative between Facebook, Microsoft, and an overseas telecommunications company, the 4,100-mile-plus MAREA subsea cable will be the highest-capacity cable to span the Atlantic, with an anticipated bandwidth of 160 terabits of data a second, the BBC reports. Wired does the math: That's roughly "16 million times the bandwidth of your home Internet connection." The two tech giants contributed to the design of MAREA (Spanish for "tide," Wired notes), while a subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica will take charge of the operation of the cable and sell any unused data space to other customers, per the AP. The purpose: to speed up data movement on the cheap between Microsoft's and Facebook's global data hubs.

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"This marks an important new step in building the next-generation infrastructure of the Internet," a Microsoft network director says in a company tech-blog post. The cable will run south of trans-Atlantic cable systems that end in the New York/New Jersey region. "Being physically separate from these other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections," the blog post reads. Both the BBC and Computerworld point out that Facebook and Microsoft will likely save money by setting up this cable—deemed the "most badass undersea cable in history" by Gizmodo—themselves, rather than renting space from cables owned by telecommunications companies. Groundbreaking on the cable is expected to start in August with completion in October 2017. (Read more data stories.)

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